A Painting as an Altar?

After just completing this triptych (and after painting over 10 triptychs in my career), I just read in Wikipedia that the origin of a triptych is from early Christianity, where the large 3 paneled artworks would be displayed as part of an altar.

Interlude | 30 inch x 78 inch triptych | acrylic on canvas
Interlude | 30 inch x 78 inch triptych | acrylic on canvas

This was perfect, I thought. What could be more ceremonious than a painting? What could settle the mind, focus your attention and create a sacred haven more than an image of beauty? I don’t see myself as an organized religion-type of person, but I certainly feel my spiritual connection to the world when I paint. Maybe that’s why painting triptychs has always been a love of mine.

When I paint, I work in layers of color, so with three panels, I do many under paintings spread across the 3 panels, adding layer after layer. Color continuity as well as variation is key when working from panel to panel. A branch might need to cross over to the next panel, the color of water not only needs to be consistent when crossing over, but needs to vary in the overall painting where the whole is as important as the technique. The continuous painting spreads from one panel to the next, playing games with the eye and allowing you to see each panel as a separate painting, and then the 3 sections all as one painting.

According to Wikipedia, triptychs were seen in early Byzantine churches, where gold leaf was used prolifically. Surprisingly, before reading this, I had already added touches of gold throughout this painting. Amen.

This painting called “Interlude”, is 26 inches by 78 inches acrylic on canvas. I hesitate to say what I see in it, as sometimes with a more abstract painting, people see different things. I prefer to leave it open for interpretation. I’m curious…what do you see?

2 thoughts on “A Painting as an Altar?”

Leave a Reply